פ’ וישלח תשע”ט
Volume 26, Issue 8
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
ויאמר לא יעקב יאמר עוד שמך כי אם ישראל
“No longer will it be said that your name is Yaakov, but Israel…” (32:29)
The name Yisrael did not replace Yaakov’s original name but complemented it. It expressed a new, loftier status that he was now granted. Whereas Yaakov had to struggle with Eisav to secure Yitzchak’s blessings, these blessings were now granted to Yisrael openly by Eisav’s guardian angel.
Yaakov’s two names represent the two ways in which we interact with the world. Sometimes the material world or our own materialistic tendencies can get in the way of our Divine consciousness or mission in life; we must then, like Yaakov, struggle to reveal the Divinity that underlies the material world. At other times, the world can be used as a means to enhance Divine consciousness or fulfill our Divine mission; at such times, our challenge, like Yisrael, is to use these opportunities both to bring the world to a higher level of Divine consciousness and to promote our own spiritual growth. (Likutei Sichot)
ויבא יעקב שלם עיר שכם
“And Yaakov came complete to the city of Shechem.” (33:18)
QUESTION: What does “coming complete” mean?
ANSWER: The word “shalom” (שלם) is an acronym for “sheim” (שם) – name – “lashon” (לשון) – language – and “malbush” – (מלבוש) – garment. The Torah is attesting that though Yaakov associated with Lavan for twenty years, it did not have any affect upon him. He did not modernize and adopt a new name. He did not stop speaking his native tongue, lashon hakodesh – Hebrew, nor did he change his style of clothing according to the popular trend of Lavan’s society, in the streets of Charan. (Bnei Yissachar)
ויצב שם מזבח ויקרא לו א-ל אלקי ישראל
“And he erected an altar there and called it ‘G-d, L-rd of Israel’… (33:20)
In contrast, Avraham “called in the name of G-d, L-rd of the world” (21:34). R’ Meir Shapiro of Lublin explains that this difference reflects the essence of these patriarchs. Since Avraham introduced G-d to the world, he declared Him “L-rd of the world.” Yaakov built the Jewish people, however – through the twelve tribes – so he proclaimed Him “L-rd of Israel.” The final stage came with Moshe, who brought us to Mount Sinai to hear, “I am the L-rd, your G-d,” for every Jew has a personal relationship with G-d.
The three pilgrimage festivals highlight these three aspects of G-d. Three times a year, we are to appear first before “the Master” (Shemot 23:17), i.e., the Master of the universe (Avraham’s aspect); then before “the G-d of Israel” (34:23) (Yaakov’s aspect); and finally before “the L-rd, your G-d” (Devarim 16:15) (Moshe’s aspect). (Meivin BeMikra)
ויהי בצאת נפשה כי מתה ותקרא שמו בן אוני ואביו קרא לו בנימין
“As she was expiring, she called him ‘the son of my agony,’ and his father called him Binyamin.” (35:18)
QUESTION: Why, when Rachel was in such a condition, did Yaakov argue with her over the name to be given to the newborn child?
ANSWER: Rachel felt that her life in this world was ending, and she worried about what would happen to her child if he grew up without the care of a mother. As Yaakov was sitting at her bedside, she expressed her feelings: “I am very concerned about my child. I pray that when I am gone from this world and in my heavenly abode, his behavior should not cause me pain and agony.” Yaakov, wanting to comfort his dying wife, told her not to worry. He promised her that he would take extra care of him and assured her that he would be a “ben yamin” – “a right son,” one who would conduct himself as is right for his family and a source of nachas to his mother in Gan Eden. (Vedebarta Bam)
ויצב יעקב מצבה…היא מצבת קברת רחל עד היום
“Yaakov set up a monument…it is the monument of Rachel’s grave until today.” (35:20)
Yaakov set up this monument over the grave of our mother Rachel so that future generations of Klal Yisrael would know where to come and pour out their hearts in prayer. Indeed, we are taught that it is for this reason that Rachel was buried on the roadside – so that on the way to the exile her children would be able to beseech her to pray on their behalf. The numerical value of קול, voice, representing the voice of prayer, is 136. The numerical value of מצבה, monument, is 137, one more than that of קול, the voice of prayer. This additional “one” alludes to Rachel, who adds her voice to that of those who pray at her monument. (Something to Say)
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